Friday, February 3, 2012

The Free Motion Quilting Project: Week #5

Week #5: Stippling in Blocks Directions
Filled in star - approx 1/4 inch design
I peeked at the entries made my others people and can see that indeed I need to do more - and I need to try more to love what I'm working on.  Leah mentioned that recently in one of her entries - it's hard to love these sample pieces done on scraps though - so I'm looking forward to seeing her ideas on what we can do with these samples.

It was pretty quick work to fill in the outlined star - I had used beige thread for the outline.  Once I was done I decided to go back and outline again in red so it stands out more.

I'm getting more comfortable with doing this stippling - still haven't found my unique pattern though - and can't picture doing it as an all over pattern in a quilt.... and oh my gosh I can't see myself actually doing this in the large three inch scale!

Retraced the outline - front
After I did the smaller scale star, I made another outline and intended to fill it with a larger scale design.  I think I really need to finish some quilts so I can get the concept/reason for having the stitching so far apart.  Like the other people working on this I'm having more trouble with the large scale stitching - so again more practice is needed.

Retraced the outline - back
In the middle of this practice my bobbin ran out so I switched to the green thread that I will be using for the FMQAYGQAL and had the strangest thing happen with the thread.  It broke but when I was fixing things I could see it seemed to have a strand shear off and then build up on the bobbin? - or maybe it was the top.  I don't remember where I saw it - and don't remember ever seeing this before with the thread I have been using.  There was one place on the back where the thread didn't look right.  I don't remember feeling or hearing any warnings - this would have been so sad if it was a 'real'quilt.  The only thing that was changed was the thread...

Another star filled in larger scale design - front
Star with large design - back with threads
The last part of the assignment was very difficult for me - and it was the part that really wasn't covered in detail in the lesson....  We were asked to draw a design she gave us, quilt it, and then put more stippling inside and around the design....

I had a heck of a time figuring this out.  First I only have a regular pencil to use as marking as that's difficult to see and I think the professional pencil must have softer lead as I felt I was scratching the fabric.  But then it's mainly for me just the matter of being able to see the pattern.  But I sure had a hard time picturing and drawing this design....

Almost the whole time I was remembering the test they gave my mom to see if she had Alzheimer's - that was such an unfair test for her as she can barely see or hear.  But they gave her a piece of paper with two figures that were next to each other and asked her to draw it.  No modifications were made for her - it was a small one inch drawing with light ink....  

First I did the outside outline - then I did the inner outline - then I broke thread for each of the triangles and lines to show the weaving of the squares....

After doing one triangle, I flipped the material so I could remark the design on the plain fabric - then sort of got in a rhythm  for sewing the finishing touches.

The stippling was easy after that!

Added Feb 8:  I peeked at a link to Jeanne's practice for the week and see she was much more sensible and just used a simple heart for her design to practice putting stippling in and around.  It didn't even occur to me to change the design for the practice...  I made it harder than it needed to be....  

I am doing this as part of Leah Day's Quilt Along Wednesdays on the Free Motion Project.  The directions to this (and much more) are there for you to learn.  To help support the project I have purchased some of my supplies from the Day Styles Design Quilt Shop.

If I had to pick two things that I really use, I would pick the table for the sewing machine and the cheater needles.  I feel quite smart each time I take that needle off the pin place and hide the threads...  Here is the link to her  video on the how to hide threads...

But really the bobbin washers and the gloves make things go much smoother.  I rarely even have to think about my bobbin now, and putting those gloves on made me feel so much more relaxed but also so much more in control of the fabric. 

I have a long way to go, but truly appreciate the time that Leah Day has devoted to all her training and instructional posts and videos.

I am coding my entries regarding this challenge with Leah2012 so clicking on that will display those posts with the most recent on the top.

I have been working thru the beginning designs that are also on her site - taking photos and notes as I go.  It's already been helpful to me to go back and remind myself of the designs and what I thought as I did them.


  1. You are doing a great job. I am a beginner at FMQ and have now stippled 4 baby donation quilts. That has helped me become more comfortable and I'm really enjoying this. ~Jeanne

    1. Thanks Jeanne! This is my first time stippling - I found Leah's site a while back. I skipped the stippling - and the other generic designs as she said she was tired of them... So I've only been doing her beginning designs. I did my first in some charity quilts. Now working on one design in a plain block part of a quilt and I have one being done in sections. It will be good when I finally put all this together in finishes!

  2. I've had the problem where one strand of the thread shears off many times. If you don't notice it and keep quilting, it very quickly makes a mess. For me, this happens on the top thread and it's usually a result of the thread pulling too tightly through the eye of the needle. Lowering tension and getting a needle with a much bigger eye both helped me with this.

    1. It happened again to me after I wrote this post - it was the top thread like you say. I noticed it right away this time and was able to break thread and get things cleaned up. I'll try to figure out how to lower tension and will look into getting different needle if it keeps happening - thanks.

  3. As crazy as it seems, problems can arise even when you change something as simple as the thread in the bobbin. When it sheers off like that coming from the bobbin, it's often caused by your needle piercing the thread and breaking only a piece of it. When it happens from the top, it's because a single ply has broken and become lodged and wound around the needle.

    The best thing to do is never take thread changes lightly, especially if you're possibly changing to a different type / brand / weight of thread.

    It's good to know your honest feelings about the marked motif part of the tutorial. I threw that in at the end and realize now I should have devoted more time to it. As always, this is a learning experience on both sides - it's helping me learn to teach as well as teaching you how to free motion quilt!

    You're doing great so just keep working at it and try to have fun!


    1. Thank you Leah. I'm honored that you visited my blog. Your lessons have helped me so much. I'll be more aware with this new thread - I can see why you like it so much - so easy to thread in the needle and I think it's thinner than what I was using and makes the fabric puff up more nicely (but then I just remembered this was a new sandwich so that might be the batting - it's a different kind of polyester.) I struggled with the marked motif. I know it wasn't the main part of the the lesson - but it was so pretty I had to try it! The pattern they had my mother draw was so similar - it was a little distracting to me to be reminded of that day as I was struggling in a different way than she was. I do really like the way the sample looks though - very impressive to me!

  4. Oh, I can definantly see your unique pattern in your stippling. And it looks great by the way. I kept trying to make my stippling look like Leah's(because hers looks so awesome) and I was getting lost in what I was doing. Now I just stipple. I think it flows much better.

    1. Thank you for visiting Dani - I took a peek at your blog too - great stitching. Hope you get your machine problems solved soon.

  5. I know what you maean about the motif - I spent quite a while figuring out how to get one onto the block, and wondering if I was missing something obvious! I'm hopeless at drawing, so freehand was out of the question. In the end I found a line drawing of a friendship star on a website, reduced it to the size I needed it, printed it and transferred it to a sheet of template plastic so that I could draw around it.

    1. I went to your blog to see - good save and solution to the motif situation! and how good that you have several quilts ready to quilt and practice on. I think it's easier to really work on the FMQ when it's a real quilt.... Thanks for visiting my blog!

  6. Thanks for your comment on my blog. I've just done the same again with a Churn Dash motif on the quilt I'm going to work on this week. I've been sandwiching it this evening and am really looking forward to starting to quilt it tomorrow - after all the practice pieces it'll be good to try all these new techniques on a real quilt. And I've got plenty to choose from, because I'm the UFO queen!


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